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Fitness and fatness in Finnish teens

Fitness and fatness in Finnish teens


Newest research available from FitBack partners in Finland find that fat accumulation in teens is not helpful to their fitness development.

Adolescents’ physical fitness (PF) has been in decline over the past several decades. This is problematic for any country’s current population which will face possible future challenges, including worsening health and physical functional capacity.

The Finland Study

The study conducted in Finland took place to look at associations between body composition, physical activity, maturation, and PF development in adolescents who had low initial PF. 

  • The study took place over 2 years, during the spring of 2013 and 2015 
  • where researchers looked across nine schools and ~970 students aged 10 to 13‐year‐old participated. 
  • Researchers measured
    • cardiorespiratory fitness (20‐meter shuttle run),
    • muscular fitness (push‐ups),
    • fundamental movement skills (5‐leaps test),
    • body composition (bioelectrical impedance analysis),
    • moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity (accelerometer),
    • and pubertal status (self‐assessment questionnaire) at 1‐year intervals. 

About results

In these Finnish children, a change in fat mass had the strongest and most coherent associations with PF development during adolescence. Fat‐free mass, moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity, and pubertal status were also associated with PF development. 

This research showed that in the low fitness group, PF remained significantly lower throughout the 2‐year testing period. These findings suggest that for young teenagers, fat accumulation is not good for PF development, we should work towards ways to prevent extra fat accumulation. 

Although this research may seem common-sense, it nevertheless shows that low fitness levels sustained during adolescence put children at greater risk for continuing to have poor fitness across the rest of their growing phase. 

Access to the full academic article is available HERE

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